The downbeat: Could the return of TNGHT save a dying genre?

The multicolored lettering "TNGHT" repeated five times with a background of pale blue.
Graphic by Anaga Srinivas

If you do a quick google search of “EDM musicians,” the first 10 who pop up are all white males. You actually have to scroll to find a single non-white EDM artist. Even worse, Forbes published a list of the highest paid DJs in the world, and besides Steve Aoki and Afrojack, it is completely white (even with Aoki and Afrojack, it’s completely male). So to say the return of TNGHT is refreshing is, well … an understatement. 

EDM, or electronic dance music, is a genre that seems to have been dissed by almost everyone. A google search of “why edm is…” comes up with the options “trash,” “not music” and “bad,” among the top five options. The Miami Times began an article about EDM with, “Listen up, people. If you still think EDM is exciting and fresh, that’s a sign you’re a newb.” 

Even worse, many artists have proclaimed there is no future in EDM. Steve Aoki is now producing deep house, a possible sign that even he believes EDM is over. 

One electronic duo who calls themselves TNGHT promises to shake up the typical EDM scene. Formed in 2011 and composed of Scottish producer Hudson Mohawke and Canadian producer Lunice — the son of Filipino and Haitian immigrants — TNGHT has been on hiatus since 2013, a year after the release of their first EP. They plan to release their second EP, called TNGHT II, later this month. 

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TNGHT’s first eponymous album received a score of 8.5 and the ranking of “best new music” from Pitchfork. Though the album was only 16 minutes long, it broke boundaries for what electronic music could do, setting the bar for musicians down the road. TNGHT’s beats were unique, weird and, at times, completely new uses of sounds. One word used across the board to describe their sound is “big.” 

Even Kanye West sampled TNGHT’s songR U Ready” for his song “Blood on the Leaves.” 

It’s even more interesting that their sound has been described as both electronic and hip hop. Perhaps this combination of genres could be the very thing to revitalize the dying genre of EDM. Listeners are tired of the same drops that made Skrillex and Diplo popular in the 2010s, and groups like TNGHT prove that these drops aren’t necessary to hype up a crowd.

Although TNGHT is an electronic group, they’re also categorized as trap, bass and hip hop. Trap might also seem a little dated (think Lil Pump, Fetty Wap, Waka Flocka Flame) but the fusing of genres makes the music feel exciting and fresh. 

One song, called “DOLLAZ,” has already been released from their upcoming EP. The song features multiple different chopped, sampled vocals and a sharp, banging bassline. The track is simplistic, repetitive and somehow still an engulfing and pleasurable experience. 

The song sounds like it could go in any direction at any point, like its opportunities are yet to be explored. I think the same holds true for TNGHT as a group, and, hopefully, electronic music as a genre. 

Ella Boyd SC ’21 is one of TSL’s music columnists. Besides writing, she enjoys listening to (and mixing) music, writing poetry and making art. 

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